Lemon Balm has been prized by bee keepers since earliest time. It was credited with the ability to attract and nurture swarms of bees, and was used as a remedy for their stings. Herbalists have favored it for use in complaints that were thought to “proceed from a disordered state of the nervous system.”
Arabians are thought to be the first to have introduced Lemon Balm’s many uses to European countries around the tenth century. Lemon Balm had been a valued part of their Materia Medica for many hundreds of years.
From the Medieval and Renaissance ages, we find Lemon Balm gained popular standing not only for its healing abilities, but as a trade good and a literary muse and subject. In the ninth century, the first Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne thought Melissa so beautiful and so valuable to the health of his subjects that he ordered it planted in all monastery gardens.
Following Charlemagne’s orders, monks began utilizing Lemon Balm in many creative ways. Lemon Balm was used for dressing wounds and as a general panacea or tonic.
During the colonization of North America from the 1500s to 1700s, settlers not only brought tools and equipment over with them but also their cherished medical herbal books and healing plants. Lemon Balm was an herb especially important for its multi-faceted uses. The colonists used it for cooking and flavoring, in beverages such as teas and wines, as medicine, and in cosmetic and household uses such as cleaning and scenting. In cooking, Lemon Balm was used for a ‘salet’ or salad herb, for flavoring meats, sauces, puddings, and cakes. Many Old Williamsburg recipes called for it. There are also records of Thomas Jefferson growing Lemon Balm at Monticello.
There are fascinating studies in Europe documenting the many benefits of Lemon Balm that make it a valuable addition to any modern-day herb cabinet. It makes an incredibly delicious, mild flavored tea and can be used in a large variety of other ways. Its lemon undertones makes it ideal for use in salads, chopped and added to stir fry, or as a flavoring for dressings and meats.
Below is a recipe for a Lemon Balm-infused honey that can be used in a variety of ways; it pairs especially well as a sweetener for other herbal teas.
Lemon Balm Honey
1/2 Cup Dried Lemon Balm
4 thin slices of organic lemon
1 cup raw honey (local is preferable!)
Combine ingredients in a jar and seal tightly. Move around and shake on a daily basis to move the lemon balm and lemon slices through the honey. After 1 month, strain the honey through a fine stainless steel strainer to remove and discard lemon and herbs. Use the strained honey to sweeten teas or in desserts for added health-supporting properties.
Note: Lemon Balm may have possible interactions and contraindications for those with a medical diagnosis or on medications; please see your doctor prior to using to make sure it is appropriate for you.
Pregnancy/Lactation: Lemon Balm is generally considered safe for pregnancy and lactation, but we suggest that you speak with your healthcare practitioner or herbalist prior to starting any new herb.
Storage: Due to the Beeyoutiful's Herbs and Bulk Foods being organic or wildcrafted, there is a slight chance that there could be some naturally occurring bugs. Beeyoutiful takes precautions on our end to minimize the chances, but we do suggest that you store them in a cold area - possibly the freezer - in an air tight container